MADRID, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal confirmed on Thursday that he will not defend his French Open title at Roland Garros this year.
The 36-year-old, who has won the French Open 14 times, has not played since injuring his left leg in the Australian Open in January, and although there had been hopes that he would be fit to try for a 15th title, he announced in a press conference that he still hasn't recovered.
"The evolution of the injury I suffered in Australia has not gone as I would have liked. I've missed targets along the way, and Roland Garros has become impossible. At this time, I will not be able to be at Roland Garros."
"It has not been possible, I am still not ready to compete," said Nadal in a press conference at his tennis school in Mallorca.
There had been speculation that Nadal could even use the conference to announce his retirement from the sport, but he said he would carry on, albeit with a long rest.
"I need to put a break on my sporting career. I will try to let my body recover over the coming months, and I'm not going to set a return date. When I feel physically ready, then I will start again," he said.
Nadal said that his objective could be to "reach the end of the year and be able to play the Davis Cup, and try to face next year with guarantees," although he added that 2024 would "be my last year."
Nadal had given hope of a recovery a couple of weeks ago when he said: "Despite having noticed an improvement in recent days, there have been many months without having been able to train at a high level, and the readaptation process needs time and I have no choice but to accept that and continue working."
Since suffering his injury, Nadal has been forced to sit out Masters Tournaments in Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.
Missing out on Paris will have serious consequences for his position in the rankings and he will drop out of the top 100.